Unpicking Eskom New Age deal for Gupta family: Zola Tsotsi, Collin Matjila, Lynne Brown #Zondo

According to Tsholofelo Molefe, the former financial director of Eskom, the power utility received a blight on its financial statements in 2014 for a deal – connected to The New Age newspaper – which did not follow the compliance regulations in line with procurement processes.

Molefe was testifying at the state capture commission.

When auditors flagged the irregularity with Molefe, she took it up with the chairperson of the board at the time, Zola Tsotsi. The deal that had caught the attention of the auditors was a R43m contract with The New Age newspaper which was owned by the Guptas.  Through Collin Matjila, former acting Eskom CEO, the wealthy family scored the lucrative deal which would see Eskom sponsoring breakfasts, talks and campaigns around current affairs hosted by the now-defunct publication.

Molefe says her team had just completed their financial results and were going to do a results announcement. Gobodo Forensics then alerted her to the unusual transaction which was not backed up by paperwork showing legal approval from Eskom’s procurement department.

The auditors told Molefe they would have to report on the transaction and put a ‘matter of emphasis’ on the financial results statement.

Molefe said she was advised to report the audit opinion to the board and steps taken to address The New Age payments.

“A special meeting was arranged with Zola Tsotsi and convened for Sunday, 30 November. the company secretary arranged for it to happen at 4pm in the afternoon,” said Molefe.

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Tsotsi then called to indicate a cancellation of the meeting. Molefe insisted the meeting should go ahead but Tsotsi’s secretary came back and said it was cancelled, he would have a meeting with former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown to discuss.

Molefe explained that Tsotsi was at pains to state he was being pressured by people from the outside to release the financial statements despite the irregularity from  The New Age. Meanwhile, Brown had since advised Tsotsi to go ahead with releasing the statements despite Molefe’s reservations on the unusual payments.

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